Iran’s top banker urges IMF to resist US pressure as loan request lingers

Press TV – Iran’s Central Bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should approve Tehran’s request for a loan without delay and to resist US pressure amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Last month, the Islamic Republic asked the IMF for $5 billion in loans to help finance its efforts to combat the disease. IMF officials have said the fund is  proceeding with Iran’s request, but the US has pledged to block the application.

Hemmati touched on the loss of lives to the coronavirus in Iran, appealing directly to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to approve the request.

“We have lost so many lives, as the Americans and Europeans have lost, and my thoughts and prayers go with them,” Hemmati said in an interview with Bloomberg. “The time to act is now,” he added.

Earlier this month, Iran’s Vice President for economic affairs Mohammad Nahavandian said the US has no right to block the loan after US media reports said Washington planned to veto the Islamic Republic’s request.

There is a perception that the US dominates the IMF, that the fund is in effect an instrument of the US Treasury Department, and thereby Washington undermines the legitimacy of the organization.

The US has the largest number of shares within the IMF, giving it 16.5% of the body’s total votes. Technically, other IMF member countries could amass a majority of votes to approve Iran’s loan even with US opposition. The Europeans and many other countries have reportedly come out in favor of the loan.

“The last time I checked, it’s not the United States running the IMF, but its management and the board of governors who oversee the work and ensure that the IMF delivers on its mandate,” Hemmati said.

The US bid to block Iran’s application is in sync with its “maximum pressure” campaign which has intensified against Iran in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

That flies in the face of assertions by US rulers, including President Donald Trump, that the United States is ready to help Iran with the coronavirus.

Trump says Iran would ‘own America’ if he lost

Trump repeated the claim on Sunday, saying he would be willing to provide aid to Iran to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic if Tehran requested it.

“If Iran needed aid on this, I would be willing,” Trump said at a White House briefing.

He made the purported offer as he urged Iranian officials to “be smart and make a deal” with the US.

Trump backed out of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and immediately issued sanctions against the nation. Iran has refused to negotiate with the US until the sanctions are lifted.

But Trump said Iran might be waiting to see if presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden will become president in the 2020 election because “they’d own America”

“You wouldn’t have a country left if he got in,” the US president said in his typical presumptuous tone.

Iran has rejected the offer as hypocritical while the US is refusing to lift the sanctions and even intensifying them.

On Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif chided Trump over his alleged willingness to send ventilators to Iran to help treat coronavirus patients.

“Iran will be EXPORTING ventilators in a few months, @realdonaldtrump,” Zarif tweeted. “All you need to do is stop interfering in the affairs of other nations; mine especially. And believe me, we do not take advice from ANY American politician,” he added.

While Trump has dangled his purported offer of help, he has made it a point that the Islamic Republic should directly ask for it. Iran has said the unconventional demand shows the US seeks “nothing short of surrender”.

In his interview with Bloomberg, Hemmati touched on Washington’s hostile measures which have complicated Tehran’s international trade.

US sanctions and its decision to put the Iranian Central Bank on its list of “specially designated nationals and blocked persons” last September prevent Iran from accessing its own money, which would be “more than enough” to cover its needs, he said.

“Central Bank reserves are under US sanctions overseas, which is illegal and unilateral, and I want to be clear about this. What we are saying is that the sanctions should be lifted altogether, however, sadly, there are actors in the US government that have little regards for international law and order,” Hemmati added.

He said he has told the IMF that a loan could be channeled directly into the EU’s INSTEX trade vehicle and the SHTA, a Swiss financial channel that aims to allow food and pharmaceutical companies based in Switzerland to export goods to Iran.

“These are specifically designed to help us import food and medicine,” Hemmati said. “These channels have proper safeguarding mechanisms in place to address all concerns, if any.”